Thursday, July 30, 2009

'Blood Simple' in Chinese?

We're used to foreign films being remade by lazy U.S. filmmakers, but this is a new twist: The Austin-shot Coen brothers film Blood Simple is being remade in China. I'm somewhat speechless.

The original shot a lot on Austin's Sixth Street back when you were less likely to get sucker punched walking between clubs. Great scenes as well out in Hutto when it was a sleepy little town of less than 1,000. It now clocks in at more than 17,000 inhabitants.

Filmmaker Zhang Yimou is directing the remake.

As one friend on Facebook put it: "House of Flying Daggers was my favorite film of 2004. I haven't seen anything he's done since then ... but unless he's planning to go all-out with the Chinese whackness, I don't see why ANYONE should touch Blood Simple."

Goodbye, Austin Chronicle, and thanks for all the film

Today marks the publication of my last FILM NEWS column in The Austin Chronicle. Tough economic times has them cutting back. It's been a great ride, with 4.5 years there and 4.5 years before that doing a film column in the Austin American-Statesman. My Dallas Morning News column SHOT IN TEXAS continues, but I'm not sure I'll be writing about the Austin film scene in the future. I will provide tidbits here (see them below!).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ready for Denmark students, part III!

This will be the third year for me to teach Texas literature to visiting students from Odense, Denmark, through Austin Community College. That's Jennifer, Katrina and Larry at our meeting yesterday to hammer out the details. It looks like this year will be the best yet.

Friday Night Lights casting call

It's time to audition for the fourth season of Friday Night Lights, to shoot soon in Austin. The show is guaranteed thirteen episodes this upcoming season and the same for one more year after that. Here's the skinny:

*Casting Call for Austin, Texas, Studio Television Series Friday Night Lights*

*Production Title*: Friday Night Lights

*Studio/Independent/Student*: Studio
*Production Company*: DirecTV / NBC
*Union/Non-Union*: Non-Union
*Project Type*: Television Series
*Other*: DirecTV/NBC
*Production Location*: Austin, Texas
*Production Start Date*: September 02, 2009
*Shooting Schedule*: multiple weeks/months throughout filming

*Producer*: Nan Bernstein
*Writer*: Jason Katims
*Director*: various

Seasons 4 and 5 of the popular NBC television series

*Character Breakdowns*:

* FOOTBALL PLAYERS - male, age range 18-24 who look like they are in
High School, athletic, some previous football experience. MUST
have completed all NCAA eligibility and/or not intending to play
college football as this will jeopardize your eligibility. We are
casting our CORE Group of players, so MUST have 100% full-time
flexible availability and be able to make this project your
priority (this means no full-time job unless you can get out of it
as needed and you are not registered for school for fall/winter
* CHEERLEADERS - female, age range 18-24 who look like they are in
High School, cute, athletic, MUST have previous cheerleading
experience. We are casting our CORE Group of cheerleaders, so MUST
have 100% full-time flexible availability and be able to make this
project your priority (this means no full-time job unless you can
get out of it as needed and you are not registered for school for
fall/winter semester!)

*Paid/Non-Paid*: Paid
*Other/Additional Compensation*: None
*Meals/Lodging/Transportation Provided*: Meals, Snacks and Beverages

Kimber Becker
Westside Marketing & Entertainment

Richard Linklater close to new project

Don't count on Richard Linklater to make his college film--the one he said was a sort of "spiritual" sequel to Dazed and Confused. Word is the funding never materialized. Now Variety reports that Linklater is close to signing on for something called Liars (AE). Written by Emma Forrest, it's a "romantic comedy about a woman who, on the way to President Obama's inauguration, retrieves lost items from her ex-boyfriends."

It's a re-pairing for Linklater with producer Scott Rudin, the guy known for throwing telephones at his assistants. He and Linklater previously teamed up on School of Rock. Rudin also was behind both There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men, the dueling Best Picture Oscar nominees that both shot in Marfa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tarantino coming back to Austin

I was there for one of Quentin Tarantino's first all-night movie fests in Austin, back when it was at the Dobie Theatre. He's at it again and will premiere his new film. Here's the skinny:

(Austin, TX)--The Austin Film Society and Fantastic Fest are excited to present Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, starring Brad Pitt, on August 15 at 9 PM at The Alamo Downtown (320 E 6th Street). Tarantino will be on hand for Q&A after the film.

In the first year of the German occupation of France, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers to perform swift, shocking acts of retribution. Later known to their enemy as “the basterds,” Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquis, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own...

Employing pulp and propaganda in equal measure, Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS weaves together the infamous, oppressed, real and larger-than-life stories of WWII.

The screening will kick off Cinemapocalyse, a dusk-til dawn movie marathon. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS will be followed by a double feature of repertory films programmed by Quentin Tarantino. Both films are influences for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is the only film that will be announced prior to the event, the "influences" double feature and the rest of the program will be announced just before they hit screen. Tickets for Cinemapocalypse will be available to Austin Film Society members and 2009 Fantastic Fest badge holders on Thursday, July 30 at noon CST and be available through Fantastic Fest.

Tickets for a simultaneous VIP screening of the film will be available to Austin Film Society members on Wednesday, July 29 at 10 AM. The $100 ticket will include dinner, the screening and simulcast of the Q&A. Tickets will be on sale at and all proceeds benefit the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund, which received a record number of grant requests for 2009.

Fantastic Fest was founded in 2005 by Tim League (founder of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and Harry Knowles (founder of Ain’t It Cool News). The Alamo Drafthouse was named “Best Theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and Ain’t It Cool News is one of the most popular internet movie sites in the world. Now in its fifth year, Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., and has hosted a large number of world premieres over the years, including THERE WILL BE BLOOD, APOCAPLYTO, HOSTEL, CITY OF EMBER and many more. Fantastic Fest was named by Variety president Charlie Koones as “one of the 10 festivals we love,” alongside industry heavy-hitters Cannes, Telluride and Toronto and was also named by MovieMaker Magazine this year as "one of the 25 coolest film festivals." For more information, visit

Creating characters from real life

So here's what happened this weekend. They took me hostage and drove me at high speed across Lake Lewisville. One was a retired pilot who spoke through a voice box, another was an older b.s artist with a weave and a ready smile, and the third was a wannabe movie starlet in a bikini. I've clearly got three new characters for my next novel.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Filming on the Gary Kent documentary continues

I interviewed Gary about his stunt career at the Barnes and Noble in Denton, TX, today, an event we filmed for the doc I'm making about Gary. His fellow stuntman Bob Ivy stopped boy to listen. Bob was the mummy in Bubba Hotep.

Jacob Peirce runs the camera as Gary signs copies of his memoir.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The not funny squad!

I may be the last person on the planet to see The Hangover. I liked it a lot--good script with an interesting nonlinear narrative and solid acting. The latter part got me to realizing that Saturday Night Live, in all of its lameness, is no longer the farm league for the big screen. Instead it's The Daily Show and the ancient Freaks & Geeks.

Why the change? Perhaps it's because two of my top three UNFUNNIEST PEOPLE are from SNL. My Not Funny Squad includes:

Amy Poehler. She is no Tina Fey. Thinks mugging for the camera is being funny.

Jimmy Fallon. He's also not Tina Fey. His talk show is too painful to watch.

and the most unfunny guy of all time:

Jim Carrey. Creepy, yes. Funny? NO!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Vittles grown in our garden and converted into a salad. The cucumber is a foot and a half long (and please resist the comments you are thinking. Stop that!).

'The Deep End' poised to film in Dallas

Read my piece in today's Dallas Morning News about the impending Dallas-area filming of a new series, The Deep End, set in a law firm and starring Billy Zane. It's described as L.A. Law meets Gray's Anatomy. Looks like a big win for the Texas film industry.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Volunteering at a writing conference

I'm the featured writer over at Straight From Hel this week talking about my experiences volunteering at the Writers' League of Texas agents conference, and how I used it to my advantage. The full post will appear on Thursday. Check it out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Making it through surgery

He was not happy to be wheeled away on the bed.

Bedside television helped post-op get off to a decent start.

Nicholas had a mostly minor surgery on Friday, but it marks the second time for him to go in the operating in his scant two years of life. He's spent the last 24+ hours on his back as the surgery was in the unmentionable zone (it was too big down there!). Many many many viewing of the films Cars and Curious George. He went to bed tonight feeling a lot better.